Often I hear from loved ones who have someone in their life suffering from past abuses, depression, or addiction, who is, in their opinion, reacting and responding to life in such a way that it is harmful to themselves or those around them. What can I do? is the plea.
I’m asked this often enough that I chose to highlight my response in the Hopeful Hearts Newsletter last week. I know not all of you receive it (though you can sign up to! ) and I wanted to share my response with all of you. Maybe one of you is asking the very same question and my heart goes out to you in this time.
When you have a loved one hurting it can often feel like you are BOTH in chains to the issue. Whether they are dealing with effects from abuse, addiction, low self-esteem, depression, or relationship dilemmas when we see the ones we love hurt and struggle with the pain, often making what we consider ‘bad decisions’, we want to ‘fix it’ for them.
In trying to ‘fix them’ our loved ones become even more agitated, sucked deeper into the victim mentality, or feel like a burden because now not only do they struggle with their main problem, but they take on the burden of being your problem to ‘fix’.
So what CAN you do to help?
- LISTEN with LOVE – even though the answer to help someone might be clear to you, it is often not as clear to our loved one who can’t see through the walls they’ve built up as a protection from the abuse, or through the drug/ alcohol haze of the addiction, or are they capable of seeing beyond the pain that blinds them in this moment. When you LISTEN without a solution or judgment it begins to open your loved one to hear their own voice, strengthens their worth and validates the pain.
(When you listen with love without a ready solution it sets YOU FREE from the chains of your loved ones issue. The solution they choose has to come from within them and with their own strength and choice.)
- PROVIDE RESOURCES – There is nothing wrong with offering resources to your loved one – names of therapists, treatment centers that might help, local support groups, websites or blogs that encourage and empower, etc. But that is it – you point them in the direction, let them know you believe in them and care for them, and then allow them to choose if and when they will utilize the proper resources.
- PRAY – Only God can save. Offer up prayers for your loved one and ask God to give you the strength to trust your loved one to HIM.
- TAKE CARE OF YOU – In situations where our loved ones are suffering through a great amount of hurt and pain it often leads us to feel guilty if we are not suffering through the same pain. Often we can look over what our own issues are and focus more on our loved ones. The best influence and support you can be to your loved one is the HEALTHIEST, POSITIVE VERSION OF YOU.
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